Celeste Review: The Game of the Year canidate about facing your inner demons and collecting floating strawberries

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Aiden Morton

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When somebody wants to tell a story that they feel is important, most people choose to do so in books or movies. These mediums are focused entirely on telling a story. Video games have gained a reputation of watering down plots and focusing on game-play. Most stories wouldn’t work as well in video game form, but Celeste wouldn’t work as well as a book or a movie. Celeste is an intense platformer about a young woman named Madeline, who decides to climb Celeste Mountain. She deals with depression and anxiety, and she hopes that facing the treacherous climb will help her get a grasp on herself. When she comes across a mysterious mirror, Part of Her escapes.

Part of Her is the physical manifestation of Madeline’s anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. She taunts her, telling her that she isn’t a mountain climber and she can’t make it. This makes for great motivation and character development. All the characters are amazing, but Madeline is the main character, and she is as engaging as you’d hope. The tough-as-nails platforming makes you feel connected to Madeline. Every failure and success you achieve in this game feels important and exciting. If we were only watching Madeline scale the mountain, I doubt I would feel as connected to her as I did.

She meets equally engaging characters along the way, like the lovable hipster photographer Theo and the stressed-out ghost Mr. Oshiro. You can talk to these characters as much or as little as you want, but I found myself coming back and conversing as much as I could with every character I encountered. The conversations are very well-written. Some characters might crack a joke, and some might give you a piece of their backstory or words of wisdom. The presentation is astounding. The pixel art mixed with the hand drawn character animations is off-putting at first, but quickly becomes a charming and unique style. There were multiple times during my play through of Celeste where, after a frame-perfect series of jumps, dashes, and wall jumps, I found myself compelled to stop and take in the beautiful pixel art and the astounding music before continuing onward. The main campaign took me just over 10 hours to complete, but there are 100’s of collectibles and a couple of secret worlds that I have yet to explore.

The game is $20 and is available on the Nintendo Switch (The console I played it on), PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. I think it is a masterpiece and I highly recommend it.

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